How Can We Maintain Diversity in Fintech Despite the Supreme Court’s Decision? Here’s What You Need to Know
Raise your hand if you’re interested in making money?
Funny question, given we’re all in the business of creating more money opportunities with technology. Let’s just say that last Thursday’s Supreme Court decision didn’t do us any favors.
ICYMI, the Supreme Court delivered a devastating blow to diversity in higher education when they struck down affirmative action in college admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
Experts are warning that this decision could have repercussions for DEI in the workplace.
The sliver of hope that I do have around this decision is it brought to light a need for further progress. We have been making headway with the current system, but it hasn’t been enough.
This has led to a major reevaluation of our global economic system; we must challenge the assumptions that have been in place for so long and think of new ways to approach the system. Fortunately, there are innovative possibilities with the help of technology; we can strive for more radical changes that could drastically improve our economic system.
For now, while it is too early to tell the full ramifications of this decision, it is clear that the struggle for diversity and inclusion in our society has taken a major hit – and less diversity in fintech is the last thing we need.
In a world where founders like Adam Neuman (who literally failed) can raise more money in a single round than all Black founders in a single quarter (facepalm), it’s easy to see how this ruling could make it even harder for us to break out of our homogenous industry’s vicious cycle.
What could happen?
Without affirmative action measures in education, the entry pool of underrepresented individuals may one day shrink faster than a deflating balloon. This diversity reduction at the entry-level will inevitably have a domino effect, affecting the overall talent pipeline in fintech.
It’s not just about the entry. Without proactive efforts to level the playing field, underrepresented individuals face extra hurdles in pursuing success within the fintech sector.
The absence of affirmative action policies inadvertently perpetuates existing disparities, landing a solid punch that limits the presence of minorities and women in fintech leadership positions.
The diversity blow in fintech doesn’t end there.
Reduced diversity could cripple innovation and hamper fintech companies’ ability to cater effectively to diverse customer needs. Without diverse perspectives at the helm, fintech products and services risk falling flat when meeting communities’ specific requirements.
Financial exclusion and inequality might just climb a few notches on the Richter scale.
So, what are we going to do?
We will ensure that our progress toward greater equity is not wasted. The first step: Understanding what’s at stake – and then taking action.
While putting together my first diversity report earlier this year, I found that not only is it hard to find data around POC in fintech specifically, but the data I did find on the finance and tech workforces is alarming:
When looking at how little diversity is funneled into our fintech industry (by way of just the separate finance and tech workforce), it’s scary how we can look around and see many people from similar backgrounds.
That’s alarming for a few reasons:
- Diversity is a breeding ground for innovation. With diverse minds clashing and collaborating, the result is a dazzling display of creativity and outside-the-box thinking. This dynamic of unique perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences leads to creation of inclusive and practical financial products that cater to a wide range of users.
- Diversity in the fintech workforce also means happier customers. Fintech companies serve a diverse clientele, and having a workforce that reflects this diversity boosts empathy and cultural competence. They understand the needs of different user groups like nobody else, providing financial solutions that hit the bullseye.
- A diverse talent pool that fintech companies can tap into. With different skills, knowledge, and expertise, diverse teams are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to problem-solving and decision-making. They bring an array of perspectives to the table, resulting in knockout business outcomes that increase profitability.
But above all else, our industry’s biggest challenge is the hubris that anyone can solve a problem without the people in the room who the problem is directly affecting.
Believing that a single individual can solve all our financial issues with technology is a sure way to fail. (Just ask Sam Bankman Fried).
So, what now?
It’s no longer enough for leaders to simply commit to DEI initiatives during the hiring and recruitment process; they must also build inclusive recruitment practices and ensure equal opportunities for underrepresented groups are embedded in every development strategy.
Natalie Gillard, the creator of Factuality, summed it perfectly in her quote to Fortune; “After this, you’ll really be able to identify who has always been on board and who never really was.”
Here are 6 action items to ensure your business and the industry can continue to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.
1. Open doors like a friendly neighbor: Partner with educational institutions and community organizations to warmly welcome individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. Offer mentorship, internships, and scholarships, and watch the doors of opportunity swing wide open.
2. Supercharge your strategies: Arm yourselves with the right tools and make diversity and inclusion your superpowers. It’s time to don your capes and show the world that you’re ready to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.
3. Leadership, assemble: Develop a strong message from your leadership team. Let your voice be heard loud and clear. Embrace workforce diversity, publicly commit to supporting and advancing diverse groups, and let your mission statement shine like a beacon of inclusivity.
4. Cast a wider net: Expand your applicant pool like a savvy angler. Reconsider where you invest your recruiting resources. Partner with local community organizations and diverse industry groups. Dive into areas that have been traditionally underrepresented, and watch your applicant pool become a diverse melting pot of talent.
5. Fairness, fairness, fairness: Focus on fairness like a referee at a championship game. Create workplace initiatives that boost morale and productivity. Ensure your policies are fair and your workplace is as inclusive and engaging as possible. Train your hiring managers in the dos and don’ts of lawful diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
6. Compliance is your sidekick: Review your DEI programs for compliance like a superhero teaming up with their trusty sidekick. Work with your attorney to ensure your policies and programs don’t unintentionally cross legal lines. Update your employee handbook and policies to align with your goals and stay legally sound. And remember to consider state and local laws that may add a few twists and turns to your DEI journey.
Bonus Round: Training time! Gather your team for some culture and bias-busting training. Equip them with the tools to navigate diversity, ethics, and inclusion. Provide training catering to your business needs, industry expectations, and community standards. Foster an environment where everyone feels included, valued, and ready to kick some diversity goals.
And thankfully, you’ve got support from CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Salesforce, and Johnson & Johnson, who have recognized the need to stay committed to equality and inclusion.
So, if you’re too busy to take a stand, think twice.
Who knows what the Supreme Court will come for next?